Thursday 27 February, 2020

Paulwell wants House sittings to resume immediately

Phillip Paulwell

Phillip Paulwell

Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, Phillip Paulwell is urging the government to immediately resume sittings of the House.

The House has met just once since the Christmas break and that was to deal with the second Supplementary Estimates.

Paulwell, in a statement on Monday, said the excuse provided by the government that the Cabinet was in retreat is unacceptable. He argued that the retreat was an annual exercise that has never caused major disruptions in parliamentary sittings.

The opposition spokesman noted that important matters, including unanswered questions and bills have been left languishing. These include a bill that should have already been tabled and debated, that will allow the administration to forcibly buy back the 49 per cent stake held by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA, in the Petrojam refinery.

This has taken on increased significance with Monday’s announcement by the United States that it had imposed fresh sanctions on PDVSA. The parliamentary opposition is against the move but the Andrew Holness government has argued that it is necessary to ensure Jamaica’s energy security.

Paulwell is now concerned that the parliament could go into recess having got very little done since the start of the year.

“The government should immediately call the House back into session in order to complete urgent matters on the parliamentary agenda before the House is prorogued for the start of the new session in February,” he implored.

He reminded that the opposition has had reason to make several complaints about the way in which the government has been managing the affairs of the parliament.

This, he said, includes “the late tabling of bills, debates at short notice, late posting and frequent changes in the agenda and the persistent breaching of the Standing Orders in relation to the answering of questions”.

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